Category Archives: Folk

Bob Dylan – Lay, Lady, Lay (1969)

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Bob Dylan wrote the grammatically incorrect ‘Lay, Lady, Lay’ for the John Schlesinger movie Midnight Cowboy, but it had stiff competition. Harry Nilsson‘s award-winning ‘Everybody’s Talkin” was ultimately selected as the film’s ubiquitous theme. Instead, Dylan fans were treated to the song on release of his 1969 album Nashville Skyline.

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Joni Mitchell ‎- River (1971)

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Nothing more suitable than a moody version of ‘Jingle Bells’ to help with a Christmas hangover. Released on side B of Joni Mitchell’s landmark long player Blue (which turns 50 in 2021), ‘River’ is the second best song (the other) about the singer-songwriter’s breakup with Graham Nash. In early 1970, she took a trip to Europe to skate away (“along the river”) during which she broke up with Nash and felt remorse that they would be apart the following Christmas. I promise to be a bit more upbeat tomorrow.

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Fleet Foxes ‎- Wading in Waist-High Water (2020)

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Fleet Foxes’ new album Shore kicks off with something unusual. Rather than the sound of songwriter and lead vocalist Robin Pecknold, ‘Wading in Waist-High Water’ features the vocals of Uwade Akhere – an Oxford student who came to band’s attention after covering the band’s hit song ‘Mykonos’. Akhere’s vocals and the band’s musicianship make for a stirring combo. Have a great week.

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Devendra Banhart – Heard Somebody Say (2005)

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This summer, Devendra Barnhart’s reference to the work of Marc Bolan was sealed with the release of AngelHeaded Hipster, a tribute compilation of Bolan and T.Rex cover songs. Barnhart included his interpretation of ‘Scenescof’, a song from Bolan’s 1968 psych-folk debut LP with his band Tyrannosaurus Rex: My People Were Fair And Had Sky In Their Hair… Banhart’s own brand of freak folk was never better than on his 2005 album Cripple Crow. On ‘Heard Somebody Say’, listeners can hear Bolan’s (and The Beatles’) echoes loud and clear.

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Fog Lake – I’ll Be Around (2018)

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In 2014, Aaron Powell (aka Fog Lake) signed up to Orchid Tapes, the NYC-based label run by fellow Canadian Warren Hildebrand (aka Foxes in Fiction). In November 2018, he released the the nostalgic sounding EP Carousel. At its heart is the song ‘I’ll Be Around’ and its keyboard rhythm, which is so reminiscent of a classic soul sound from the mid 1960s.

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Lewis – I Thought The World Of You (1983)

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Now for something even more left-field. In 1983, a mysterious personality by the name of Randall Wulff showed up at Music Lab Studios, L.A. in a white Mercedes SL convertible and recorded a handful of ethereal  tunes. After a photo shoot, he then disappeared like a ghost. The resulting album has become part of crate-diggers’ folklore. The opening track ‘I Thought The World Of You’ off L’Amour sets the template. It’s synth-pop folk; yes, like Bryan Ferry at his most stripped back and mumbled. The result is strangely intoxicating – a bit like the 1980s.

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Matt Costa – Jet Black Lake (2020)

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Californian Matt Costa tasted early success with his first first full-length album Songs We Sing. He spent the the summer of 2005 opening Jack Johnson’s summer tour and went onto tour with Modest Mouse, Oasis and Ryan Adams. Thereafter his musical forays became more sporadic during a time of marriage, travel and reflection. Today he’s back and his most recent release ‘Jet Black Lake’ is a welcome return, all indie folk and velveteen croon. The single has been released in advance of a new album Yellow Coat, which is set to see the light on 11 September via Dangerbird Records.

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Midlake – Kingfish Pies (2004)

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In 2006, Midlake released their brilliant sophomore album, The Trials Of Van Occupanther. Two years before, they had already trailed their pastoral yearnings about the olden days. Less of the 1970s soft rock than Van Occupanther, but with more than a spoonful of 1960s psychedelia, ‘Kingfish Pies’ tells a story of a smalltown common man. The band hail from Denton, Texas, but got their break when associate and former Lift to Experience drummer Andy Young sent it to  Simon Raymonde (ex Cocteau Twin). He offered to master the album at Abbey Road Studios, to which the band agreed. Have a great week.

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Dave Thomas Junior – Little Piece of Nothing (2018)

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David Robert Thomas Jr. is a British singer-songwriter and producer based in New York. In 2018 he released the LP Echo, which closes with the beautiful ‘Little Piece Of Nothing’. There are echoes of Sufjan Stevens; and that’s no bad thing.
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Faye Webster ‎- In A Good Way (2020)

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I missed a slot yesterday; an extra song today. Last year, she sung about my hometown. This year, Faye Webster has tried to make me cry in a good way. The sultry sound of some one exploring their emotions … lounge keyboards, acoustic guitar and lush strings create an atmosphere for her smitten vocals: “I didn’t even know I was capable of being happy right now / But you showed me how”.

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Angelo De Augustine – Santa Barbara (2020)

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Angelo De Augustine is signed to Sufjan Steven’s label Asthmatic Kitty. Going one step further, De Augustine and Stevens have collaborated for the former’s latest single ‘Santa Barbara’. The beautiful and melodic lo-fi folk is comfortable ground for both. The video was filmed, directed and edited by De Augustine. “All my life has been a surprise…”

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Jimmy Buffett – Come Monday (1974)

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What do you do when the sun is out, you’re on holiday and you’re restricted to your house… well, you dress like Jimmy Buffett of course. Buffett was born in Mississippi, raised in Alabama and moved to Key West in 1971, aged 24. By 1974, he was releasing his third studio album Living And Dying In 3/4 Time, singing ‘Come Monday’ and developing his whole margaritaville flip-flop wearing sktick that would make him a fortune. Have a good week.

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Phoebe Bridgers – Smoke Signals (2017)

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I think I may be over my infatuation with Phoebe Bridgers. A couple of months back, over and over, I listened to the first half dozen songs off her dazzling debut album Stranger In The Alps. It’s stopped and I can talk about now. ‘Smoke Signals’ kicks off the album with its shout-out to so many shared musical touchpoints. A beautiful song.

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Israel Nash – Rain Plans (2013)

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Good morning people. This weekend, I thought I was hearing the presence of Neil Young. But it wasn’t the Canadian singer-songwriter; instead is was the voice of Texas-based artist Israel Nash, channeling Don Grungio. The title track off Israel Nash’s Rain Plans, his third studio album, is quite an achievement – genre-bending rock‘n’roll while modelling a hero. Have a good week, despite these strange times.

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Phoebe Bridgers – Scott Street (2017)

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Phoebe Bridgers’ debut album Stranger In The Alps is upliftingly sad. On the song ‘Scott Street’, Bridgers sings “I asked you “How is your sister?/ I heard she got her degree”/ And I said, “That makes me feel old/ You said, What does that make me?” The downcast sentiment throughout immediately drew lazy comparisons to fellow L.A. troubadour, Elliott Smith; but let’s face it, she’s not as sad and she’s much cooler, which has its place. At 3 mins into the song, the sound comes together in one of those magic moments that builds and builds until the song fade out.

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